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Anglers aim to reel in a cure

The 10th Annual Fishing for a Cure tournament is set for this weekend, and neither warm weather nor elusive fish will turn away the participants.

Despite an unusually warm week, Jim Nelson, one of the event organizers, said the ice on East Side Lake was still 14 inches as of Tuesday. Registration for the tournament — which is now a part of the inaugural Paint the Town Pink celebration — begins 11 a.m. at East Side Lake, with the tournament from noon to 2 p.m.

“There is no concern of canceling right now, whatsoever,” Nelson said, and added the warmth may only create some slushiness on top of the ice.

What started as a friendly fishing tournament between a couple buddies at Hormel Foods has now turned into an annual fundraiser with more participants every year. In the past three years, the event raised $6,600 for cancer research, and it’s still growing.

This will be the first year the tournament takes place on East Side Lake. While the event was held above Ramsey Dam with an evening celebration and prizes at the Windrift Lounge, it has become too large to continue at those locations.

“The Windrift has been just super these last years helping out with the event,” Nelson said. “Just the last couple of years, it was so crowded. If we were going to get bigger, we had to move the event.”

And because the event is more about raising money for cancer research than fishing, few will likely complain about the change. Even if the ice gets too thin to walk on, Nelson said the event is still a good value for everyone. This year’s after-fishing party will take place at the Austin Eagles Club from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. or later, just blocks from East Side Lake. The entry fee for the entire event is $10 and includes a meal at the Eagles, as well.

There will be the traditional first, second and third place prizes for largest fish, and if nobody catches anything, a drawing will be held to award those prizes.

Nelson added the sheer amount of raffle items and door prizes draws a lot of attention, as a majority of people win something. Whether a fisherman or not, Nelson encourages anyone to attend.

“The fishing is only a part of this whole fundraising event,” he said.